Everything Kathryn Joseph touches has this magnetic quality – it’s not music to be absorbed lightly, and it can’t be shrugged off. Her catalogue, though slim – a mere two solo albums, and contributions to the Out Lines project – has an extraordinary sense of power, a sense of personal revelation amid exquisite artistry.
Recorded in a flurry of intimate takes in Lomond Campbell’s Highland studio, ‘for you who are wronged’ is, even by her own stunning standards, a triumph. A record of grace and conviction, Kathryn Joseph plumbs the emotional depths only to uncover further elements of beauty, the pain in her voice ringed with a halo of pure, beaming light.
‘what is keeping you alive makes me want to kill them for’ is a heart-stopping opener, a performance of breathless power. It seems to squeeze the air from your lungs, its entrancing lyric doubled against a vocal of incredible intensity. ‘the burning of us all’ introduces fresh space, the trickling keyboard lines having an innate – though spartan – sense of groove. “The way they gaslit / swallowed it whole” speaks of abuse at the most intimate and damaging of levels, yet it’s also powered by the voice of a survivor.
‘only the sound of the sea would save them’ bubbles and boils, introducing a mid-section framed by concise use of both words and notes. ‘until the truth of you’ may not exceed the three minute mark, but its stuttering keys and double-tracked vocal say more than entire orchestras. ’bring me to your open wounds’ is staggeringly raw, while the meditative ‘of all the broken’ – one of the project’s longest songs – sketches out the path of continuation.
Closing with the glitchy beauty of ‘long gone’ the project seems to provide Kathryn Joseph the space to fully assess her own thoughts and emotions, while becoming a bridge from one period in her life to the next. A sensational record, ‘for you who are the wronged’ burns with a fire though quiet is righteously undimmed; poetic, and explicitly emotional, it’s a challenging yet enriching experience.
Words: Robin Murray
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